BRATISLAVA Ė The IIHF Extra-Ordinary Congress in Bratislava approved a change in the IIHF World Championship program on May 12 that affects all events of the Division I level and down to Division III in any category as of the 2011-2012 season.
The changes in the program structure were unanimously approved by the IIHFís member national associations. The objective is to have all nations play on a level which reflects their current status of development.
From the season 2011-2012, the events in all categories will be structured vertically, which means that the Division I groups A and B will be two separate tiers, same as the Division II groups A and B and eventual Division III groups.
Previously, the 12 teams of each Division played in the same tier divided into two groups while now the best six teams of a division will be seeded into Group A and the following six teams in Group B to increase parity and the number of competitive games.
In the menís category the two teams promoted to the Top Division will be the best two teams of the Division I Group A. The last-placed team of next yearís Division I Group A event will move down to Group B, and the best Group B team up to Group A.
By way of example: Poland will accordingly play in the Division I Group B the next season. This means, that in order for Poland to earn promotion to the Top Division, they must first win the Division I Group B which will earn them promotion to Division I Group A for the next year. In Division I Group A, the top two teams earn promotion to the Top Division.
Accordingly, the best Division II Group A team in next yearís event will be promoted to the Division I Group B and replace the last-placed team of that group (see illustration below).
Another major change is that in the future only one team (instead of two) will be relegated from the Top Division of the U20 and U18 categories and only one team will be promoted to the Top Division.
This is the first major format change since the current championship structure was implemented in 2000. An IIHF study of all championship results showed that depending on the category in menís events (senior, U20, U18) between 49 and 68 per cent of the games ended with a goal difference of five or more goals in the 2010-2011 season.
The majority of these uncompetitive games were played against nations not completely fulfilling the minimum participation standards.
In the womenís senior category where the program has already been structured vertically before the equivalent number was 30 per cent. This situation was urging for a change that was eventually approved.
The following illustration shows the changes for the menís senior category:
According to the new structure, the teams will be seeded as follows (subject to change at the Annual Congress this weekend depending on the host country and eventual swapping):
- Division I Group A: Austria (17), Slovenia (18), Hungary (19), Great Britain (20), Japan (21), Ukraine (22).
- Division I Group B: Korea (23), Poland (24), Netherlands (25), Lithuania (26), Romania (27), Australia (28).
- Division II Group A: Spain (29), Estonia (30), Croatia (31), New Zealand (32), Serbia (33), Iceland (34).
- Division II Group B: Belgium (35), China (36), Mexico (37), Bulgaria (38), Israel (39), South Africa (40).
- Division III: DPR Korea (41), Ireland (42), Turkey (43), Luxembourg (44), Greece* (45), Mongolia* (46).
- * Note: Bosnia & Herzegovina and Chinese Taipei applied to enter the Division III. The fulfillment of the minimum standards for participation will be reviewed until the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress, 22-24 September, in Istanbul, Turkey. The admission of additional teams could make a Division III Qualification tournament with the two last-ranked teams seeded in Division III (Greece, Mongolia) necessary.
Note: The new structure will also be implemented for all categories in menís (senior, U20, U18) and womenís (senior, U18) events. The final composition of the groups of all categories and the host countries will be determined at the IIHF Annual Congress and published on IIHF.com presumably on Saturday.
Together with the new structure, the congress also approved changes in the organizer support and contribution to teams. In the future, the organizer support for six-team events in menís tournaments and other categories (U20, U18, women, women U18) in Division I and lower will be the same. Earlier they were lower in other than the menís senior category.
The money given to organizers and teams increases from CHF 14.3 million to CHF 15.8 million next year following the changes.
The Extra-Ordinary Congress also approved housekeeping changes of the IIHFís Statues and Bylaws concerning governance, minimum standards for participation in the IIHF World Championship categories menís U18 and womenís U18, tax issues of national associations hosting IIHF events and bylaws related to WADA code compliance.